Olivia Rooney, Account Executive
The college admissions scandal has shocked the nation and not just due to the celebrities involved but for the implications on the everyday parent, high schooler or college student. Deemed by the ongoing media storm as the largest college cheating scheme, this scandal has been met with intense scrutiny and outrage from the public, demanding serious repercussions for the accused. However, for many college students, the scandal lacks real shock value because it is assumed that universities have always prioritized factors other than academic ability to receive admission. Meanwhile, others believe the scam tarnishes the value of their degrees in the eyes of prospective employers. Overall, the scandal contributes to skepticism around the admissions process being fixed in favor of wealthier students. But in the long run, does the scandal have any lasting reputation damage for schools or the accused?
From a PR standpoint, the Ivy Leagues’ elite status will carry them through the scandal, allowing them to suffer little to no reputation damage compared to other universities. Other schools will not take their place as the premier colleges of the United States. The goal for such universities is not concerned with appealing to the masses but instead to the elite and financially equipped students. Prestige and exclusivity will remain synonymous to the Ivy reputation.
Regardless of this, the loss of public trust in the college admissions system still begs for an actionable response from universities. Transparency, accountability, and credibility are critical to restore trust. First steps must consist of the colleges in question spearheading investigations into the accusations. In addition, universities must ensure similar abuses will not happen again by creating initiatives toward a more credible admissions oversight process. As for smaller and mid-tier schools that may not be directly involved, they have the opportunity to demonstrate their own proactive measures regarding fairness as well as capitalizing on the elites’ missteps.
As for the celebrities that launched the scandal into the mainstream, they have remained silent. While their legal teams are most likely the ones who insisted that the parents stay quiet, silence typically leads people to speculate and draw their own conclusions. When they do respond, it’s best to approach with the angle that a parent would do anything for their child. Many parents can relate to this sentiment, which may allow some parents empathize. Along with this strategy, these parents must also hold themselves accountable while remaining sincere with their apology.
Despite the breadth of the scandal, rich-kid Olivia Jade Giannulli and company’s social following has skyrocketed. Although Olivia was pulled from her brand deals and is being bullied by thousands online, the world is eagerly waiting for the post that breaks her social hiatus. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Olivia will land on her feet in the foreseeable future.
All in all, another pay-to-play scandal isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Moving forward, all parties should practice transparency and show they have at least learned something from all of this. The news cycle is fast, so this storm too shall pass once the media finds something more intriguing to report on.